Instrumental Pieces From The Henry VIII Mass - 4 Scores by Fayrfax/Lloyd. For ATTB instruments. Miscellaneous Music. Early Music Library. 4 Scores. Published by London Pro Musica (MM.EML0318).
These unusual abstract pieces come from the Henry VIII manuscript (British Library, MS Add. 31922), though the second of the two Fayrfax pieces has a more complicated origin. In the Musica Britannica edition of the Henry VIII collection, they are described as "puzzle canons", a perfectly descriptive term which, however, I (Bernard Thomas) have not adopted, as it has not gained any currency outside England. Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521) is one of the few English composers of his generation whose music survives in any quantity. Several masses have survived, as well as motets, and a few secular pieces of a distinctively ornate nature. Although rather short, the two abstract pieces printed here contain some of that distinctive, almost improvisatory counterpoint that characterises the music of the best English church composers of this time.